Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kenya: Ageing Trees in Shimba Hills to Be Harvested - Wekesa

Maureen Mudi
28 March 2011

Thousands of exotic trees at the Shimba Hills National Reserve will be harvested, Forestry minister Noah Wekesa has said. The announcement ended a long-standing disagreement between the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forestry Service.
The KFS wanted the plantation harvested as most of the trees are dying of old age but KWS raised concern over how the plan will be implemented without affecting wildlife. The decision to harvest the trees was reached at after the Wekesa toured the expansive reserve last week.
Wekesa, who was accompanied by his assistant minister Josphat Nanok, the chairman of KWS board of directors Daudi Mwiraria, KWS director Julius Kipngetich among other dignitaries, directed that KWS and KFS form a team of four people to implement the plan.
The team, together with the Nema, will conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and come up with a report to be presented to the minister and the boards of the two parastatals.
The main issues raised by KFS were that the plantation is old."There is a need to harvest them to reduce the loss and earn income for the service. Since Shimba has been declared a conservation area, no more exotic plantation will be established, but the area will be left for natural regeneration," a KFS official said. Nema has already written to KFS indicating that it expects an EIA study to be done before any harvesting can take place.
The exotic forest covers about eight percent of the reserve and has cyprus, pine and eucalyptus that was planted way before the area was gazette as a reserve.
Both parastatals have stakes in its conservation and management of the reserve. It is feared that about 450 elephants, 150 sable antelopes and more than 400 bird species, may be negatively affected by the move, if implemented.
The reserve is also a water tower area, with five main rivers flowing through the forest, including Mukurumudji, Pemba, Manolo, Ramisi and Marere, which serve a third of the Coastal population with fresh water.
According to sources, an investor had already been consulted to fell exotic trees, and create room for the natural ones, after exceeding their germination period inside the reserve.
But KWS was against the move saying felling down the same will only cause massive destruction and unrepairable damage to some unique species.
KFS maintain that the felling of the trees should be a routine practice that will create millions of shillings in revenue for the country, and that it is being conducted in other reserves and parks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orengo seeks Treasury nod to resettle Mau evictees

The Ministry of Lands wants Treasury to give it the greenlight to use funds set aside for post-election violence victims to resettle Mau evictees.
Lands minister James Orengo said the Ministry was allocated Sh1.5 billion in the last financial year for resettling victims of the chaos
He said he was ready to direct the funds towards resettling the Mau evictees languishing in makeshift tents.
“We have forwarded our budget (for the resettlement of Mau evictees), we are still awaiting feedback from Treasury.
"We could use funds meant for resettlement of displaced persons to relocate Mau evictees so long as Treasury assures us that we will get funds for the IDPs,” Mr Orengo said on the sidelines of a workshop on national land use policy at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi Tuesday.
According to estimates from the ministry, it will cost Sh1.5 billion to resettle and compensate thousands of families evicted from the Mau Forest.
Ironically, an equal amount allocated to the Ministry during the last financial year to resettle post-election violence victims remains unused because the Settlement Fund Trustees, who administer the funds are yet to authorise the expenditure.
It is this amount that Mr Orengo wants to direct towards resettling the Mau evictees if he is given assurance that Treasury will allocate it extra funds to resettle the post-election violence victims.
Last November, the Ministry wrote to Treasury asking for Sh3.4 billion to resettle 6,116 families evicted from Mau, Embobut and Chepyuk forests.
Addressing participants at the workshop, Mr Orengo promised to ensure that all the laws relating to land will be enacted within the time lines set out in the new Constitution.

Source: Daily Nation online edition

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kenya Celebrates the International Year of Forest

Kenya joined the world in celebrating the international year of forests with the running theme of forests for the people by planting trees at the famous Karura forests and officially launching tree planting activities for the year. The international year of forests will be observed globally and it refocuses the attention of the world to the importance of forests to mankind.
The occasion was graced by many dignitaries and guests among them UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner, the Nobel laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai, Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Hon. Dr. Noah Wekesa, Minister for Livestock Honorable Mohammed Kuti, Head Friends of Karura chairperson, Alice Macaire, Ambassadors, senior government and civil society officers, the local community among others. The event was set rolling by a tree planting ceremony by both the dignitaries and the local community with the assistance of Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers.   
Mr. Achim Steiner reiterated the importance of celebrating the international year of forests as a way of rededicating the world’s efforts towards the conservation of forests as such agendas had been forgotten and overridden by economic matters. He said that Kenyan forests were a major resource that affected virtually all socio-economic issues in the country adding the country risked losing an approximated Ksh 1.7 billion annually if the Mau forest was not conserved.
The Minister for Wildlife and Forestry affirmed that the ministry was still committed to broadening the relationship with other stakeholders in conserving and increasing Kenya’s forest cover. He said the new constitution had set the requirement of minimum forest cover 10% of the country’s land area. New forest policies that are in line with the constitution are also to be implemented. He called for more participation by the private sector in order to improve forest governance. 
Speaking at the same event, the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Hon. Koli Nanok maintained that illegal allocations of forest land in the recent past had been a major impediment for Kenya to attain a 10% forest cover. He noted that the rainy season had just started and therefore Kenyans should take advantage to plant at least five trees this season. The Assistant Minister also assured the public that the ministry will recognise all those who had contributed to conservation and rehabilitation of forests.
Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai appreciated the government and KFS in particular of their continued efforts in forest conservation. She was encouraged with the work of forest inventory that the service had embarked on for conservation and eco-tourism activities in the country. She also encouraged planting of trees this year in arid and semi arid parts of the country so as assist in securing water sources especially during droughts.   
The KFS Director Mr. David Mbugua acknowledged that forests were major resources for sustaining livelihoods with the bulk of Kenyan forests being used mainly for water catchment and biodiversity. He welcomed the general public particularly the Nairobi citizens to tour the newly rebranded Karura forest to savor the many attractions within the forest. 

UNEP's Executive Director, Achim Steiner and Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai listen to a Kenya Forestry College Student explaining forestry techniques at their stand during the event

The KFS Board Chairman Prof. Richard Musangi plants a tree during the launch of the International Year of Forests in Karura Forest

Story by Ken Gichuki

KFS Takes Part in the Athletics Kenya Meeting in Kisumu

The first Athletic Kenya meeting took place on 25th to 26th of March at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu. The event attracted various teams sponsored by various institutions. Kenya Forest Service (KFS) sent its first Athletic team to join other big names such as Kenya Prisons, Kenya Army, APTC, GSU, Posta, and KPA to battle for the top positions in the event sponsored by National Bank of Kenya.
KFS was represented by Zebedee Kiprono and Wilson Mwangi. The two took part in the 200m and 300m races posting good times in positions four and five  in their respective hits.  The KFS athletic team which was recently formed performed well considering the stiff competition from their rivals. The event attracted many Kenya renowned athletes such as middle and distant runners such as Pamela Jelimo
 The KFS Director Mr. David Mbugua agreed to sponsor participants in the Athletics Kenya event meetings.  The move was welcomed as positive as it came on the realization of the great athletic potential within KFS staff. This also puts KFS in good standing as one of the organisations which is actively encouraging members of staff to pursue their talents. 
The next Athletic Kenya Meeting will take place in Narok where KFS plans to enter more categories in order to bag more trophies in the fierce the battle of supremacy that is kenya’s athletics championships.
KFS athletes Zebedee Kiprono (extreme right) and Wilson Mwangi (center in white vest) white red stripped vest at the start line.

KFS Ranger Zebee Kiprono (front) in a training session at the stadium
 In the year 2004, Forest Ranger Hosea Rotich won the Nairobi Standard Marathon and went ahead to represent Kenya in the Berlin Marathon in 2010. He has been racing as an individual but is now in the Kenya Forest Service Athletic team.

Story by Vincent Bwire

Kenya opens Africa's first carbon exchange

Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:04pm GMT

By Beatrice Gachenge

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya opened Africa's first climate exchange platform on Thursday, expected to unlock trade in carbon credits on the continent and benefit small scale projects.
Carbon markets are intended to cut the cost of fighting climate change by giving companies the flexibility either to reduce their own greenhouse gases or buy emissions permits.
The Africa Carbon Exchange in east Africa's biggest economy will provide holders of carbon credits with easier access to global markets and information, which in turn is expected to increase foreign investor interest in the region.
"The exchange will pull a lot of foreign direct investments through development of more carbon projects. We will start with a futures market in May and progress to spot once more projects are registered," said Tsuma Charo, chief executive officer at Africa Carbon Exchange (ACX).
Kenya has 17 projects awaiting registration by the executive board of the CDM, while three have already received approval, Charo said.
"In the next five years, Kenya will have attracted about $1 billion in foreign direct investments worth of business in the energy sector alone," he told Reuters.
Schemes, like those under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), promote investments in emission-reducing projects in the developing world by companies and governments in rich nations.
In return for building wind farms or other projects, such investments can earn valuable carbon offsets called certified emission reductions (CERs) that can be sold for profit or used to meet mandatory targets to cut emissions.
ACX said it had received several enquiries from other African countries interested in trading their credits.
"We have received very strong interest from Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda and after the launch we expect more African interest," John Kihumba, chairman of ACX, told a news conference during the exchange's launch.
GreenNext Sustainability Ltd, a Kenyan environmental management consulting firm, has been selling credits to international buyers who have access to global markets, but had to contend with low earnings due to high transactional costs.
"They dictated prices and take off their commissions which means the prices we got for our clients are not as good," said James Mwangi, managing director at GreenNext.
"With a local exchange we can probably try and influence the prices because the transactional costs are lower."
Mwangi said small scale climate projects would be the main beneficiaries of a local climate exchange platform, since they would have access to the market, previously a hard task.
Mwangi, who previously traded at most three projects in a quarter said the exchange would attract more players and was projected to at least trade one project per month.
Source: Reuters

US Government to Sponsor Conservation Activities in the Mau Complex

The Mau Forest Complex (MFC) is the largest forest left in Kenya –as big as the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares combined. It is also the most important of Kenya’s five major Water Towers. Some 30 million people depend on water sources originating in the Mau-in Kenya and beyond. The Mau Forest Complex supports key economic sectors in Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces, particularly agriculture and tourism. The market value of tea and tourism –in which the Mau plays a vital role –is more than Kshs 20 billion a year. The Mau sustains some of the country’s most valuable tourism sites including the Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru.
The US Government has designed a $6.5 project called ProMara-“For the Mara. In addition US Government will provide $350,000 in assistance to the Ministry of Lands for boundary surveys and registration of title deeds for the Southwestern Mau and Trans-Mara Forest Reserves in support of the Government of Kenya’s plan to rehabilitate the Mau Forest Complex. ProMara will help restore the health of critical water catchments, restore the forests rich biodiversity, support community groups to help manage natural resources and improve livelihoods.
The project will work with Community Forest Associations (CFA), Water Resource Users Associations and the private sector to expand business opportunities in ways that will nurture not only communities but also the land. It will also explore possibilities of payment to communities for their work in conserving water and trees.
It will also support an intensive public awareness campaign on resident’s rights, relevant laws, and what restoring the Mau will mean for everyone. This will include establishing of the Mara outreach centre which will help mobilize youth around sustainable forestry and agriculture; offer legal services; organize peace-building and dialogue on conservation, land and livelihood.
Story by Lydia Ogada